Explorer Belt 1997
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10 Tolar Note

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The Explorer Belt was the major event in the Venturer calendar. 52 Venturers from all over Ireland took up the challenge of the Explorer Belt in 1997. St. Pauls Venturer section were represented for the first time in this event by 2 teams. The teams were as follows: Keith Walsh and Damien Fitzgerald on one team and Colin Greaney and Conor Kenny on the other team. There was a lot of preparation put in by the two teams in order to raise some money to subsidise the cost of the trip which was £350. Letters were sent out to companies who were very helpful in offering some money to reduce the cost of the trip. In the end the teams only had to pay £150 to go on the expedition and some necessary gear was bought with remaining sponsorship. The Unit itself were very helpful, buying two tents and two trangias for the use of the Venturers and the rest of the Unit. The teams were lucky that they got the first use of the tents and both the tents and the trangias were invaluable on the expedition. The work of the Venturer Leaders especially Brian Fanning and Michael Cunningham in helping with sponsorship and getting gear together cannot be underestimated. On 27th July we set off from Dun Laoghaire on the HSS for Holyhead. We travelled through England, France and Germany before arriving in Salzburg in Austria were we spent our last night together before being "dumped" in Slovenia. The next morning it took 3 hours to get to the border of  Austria and Slovenia. On the journey we passed through some of the most beautiful countryside we had ever seen. The mountains were popping out of nowhere and we never went through so many tunnels as we did that day. As soon as we got into Slovenia, they started to drop off people. Conor & Colin were dropped off before Damien & Keith. Colin & Conor were dropped off at about 3:00PM local time outside a relatively large town called Celje. Keith & Damien remained on the bus and were dropped off third last in the thunder and lightning at around 9:00PM. This made the expedition particularly difficult for them because they got no walking done in the first day. Because I can only account for myself and Keith, most of the information about the expedition will be from myself and Keith's journey. We were unlucky that we got dropped off in the thunder and lightning but we were lucky that we met a very nice family who gave us a bed for the night. Every day we would walk and stop occasionally to ask people about the 15 projects we had to complete along the way. The Slovenian people were some of the nicest people we had ever met and were only too helpful in helping us find a place to stay. People gave us grapes, plums, blackcurrant juice, souvenirs and one nice person even let use his phone to ring home. Each night, we would cook dinner which usually consisted of rice or spaghetti with a sauce and vegetables and for lunch we would have rolls and ham.

There wasn't a free minute during the expedition because each night we had to keep up to date on our logs and projects. It was only midway during the third day that I realised how long ten days was and I wondered when i would end. We arrived back, jubilant but tired after covering 210km around the country of Slovenia. The next few nights together were spent enjoying ourselves as well as a trip to Portoroz, a seaside resort in Slovenia beside the Adriatic Sea and in the capital city Ljubljana. During the day we were assessed by staff members who went through our logs and projects with us, asking us questions about them. On the following Sunday night, the presentation of the Explorer Belts took place and both myself & Keith and Colin & Conor deservedly got the belts.

Keith & Damien Receiving Their Belts

It was also a great achievement for the region with 4 out of the 5 teams getting the belt. The belts were presented by Chief Scout Joe Lawlor. As soon as we got the belts we ran up to the phone box and rang our family as well as our leader Brian Fanning. It was a night of celebration for all involved. The following Tuesday we drove through Austria, Germany and France and on the Wednesday we went shopping in one of the biggest supermarkets we had ever seen in Calais. We then went over to England and drove through from Dover to Holyhead. At 4:00AM we boarded the sailing to Dun Laoghaire and arrived at the terminal at 5:30AM where we then proceeded to Connolly Station where we were picked up and driven home. We arrived home at 9:30AM and immediately jumped into bed and caught up on a lot of lost sleep. We would collectively like to thank the following for making the Explorer Belt a trip of a lifetime: Our parents, Our Leaders, Our Sponsors, The Unit and the Explorer Belt Staff.


Last updated on:
10 October, 1998